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October 15, 2008

Comments

Austin

You know, in at least one way the Osteens' "christian" philosophy seems to parallel the thesis of the book The Secret.

Basically, The Secret says that "God" is a force, a phenomenon, and denies He has the capacity to choose--either to say yes or no to whatever requests we make of him. By accepting this diminished view of God, man can then trade the chore and uncertainty of petition in favor of manipulation.

Both the Osteens and The Secret seem to endorse the same basic flawed view of God: if you think positive, whatever you want must be given to you. Hold on to that.

Nevertheless, no matter how unwittingly, I think Mrs. Osteen may have made a statement that still does, to some extent, have a grain of truth to it.

Isn't it true that Jesus brought us not only the promise of eternal life with Him, but the promise of "life indeed" while here on earth? How is this different from "living life to the fullest?"

I would think that, at some level, any Christian who believes that honoring God leads to the purest form of fulfillment epitomizes healthy faith. In other words, "if you think positive" about God and your role under his authority, doesn't that mean you will "live life to the fullest?"

What's the difference between both kinds of "living life to the fullest?"

Jeff

This reminds me of the Mormon view of heaven, if only in the result end of things. They think that because we are born we will all go to Heaven but there are three levels of Heaven that get better as you go from one to the next.

But the thing that I was always struck with was that everyone qualified for the lowest level of Heaven, the "Telestial" Kingdom. Basically everyone that doesn't believe and follow God and Jesus would go to this heaven, including those who would actively oppose Jesus in Earth. And in that Kingdom, life would be better than it is here on Earth.

So after hearing about it, I'm always left with one question: where is my incentive to actually do right? Because honestly, it's hard to work toward Godly things. God hits me in places I'm not comfortable with. If I can avoid the hard work and STILL get a better life than I have now, why should I bother?

The same kind of applies. If my living life to the fullest is the epitome of what God wants for me, then where's the incentive to be better? I'm already doing what God wants me to be doing so forget about living to whatever standard is there because it's hard work. And me? Living life? Yeah...I want to live a lazy life.

randy

A challenging passage that comes to mind regarding this topic is in John 10: 7-10, especially the last part of verse 10. The question many of us wrestle with is, “What is an abundant life?” And what rewards can we expect to experience in this life when we honor and obey our Lord?

7. So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

My understanding of this passage, when considering the teachings of Christ in its entirety, is that true followers will not be deceived by the thieves or robbers (i.e. false teachers), and the “abundant life” primarily pertains to our internal satisfaction of knowing Christ, our fellowship with one another, and our recognition of knowing where our eternal destinies rests, regardless of the trials or hardships we may encounter in this life. Any other thoughts?

RLF

Austin,

I think that you are right that there is more than one way to "live life to the fullest (llttf)." (Isn't "everyman doing that which is right in his own eyes" another name for the same slogan?) There probably are as many ways to llttf as there are men on the planet.

This raises a pair of questions: Is one way better than another? On whose authority? If God is that authority, then perhaps a better slogan would be "living life according to God's template." It is true that such an approach to life will yield fulfillment, both here and in eternity. But isn't fulfillment the by-product rather than the motivation?

Are you saying, Randy, that a "true believer" is incapable of being deceived by a false message? If so, why are there so many warnings in Scripture about NOT being deceived? Any ideas?

randy

RLF, No, I think anyone is capable of being deceived, but with respect to true salvation found in Christ, this passage seems to be presenting a source of comfort and security for those who truely have accepted the real Christ. For example, Jesus says, "the sheep did not hear them," referring to His sheep and the thieves and robbers (or false teachers)that preceeded Him. Of course, this interpretation poses another debated doctrinal question. "Once a sheep, always a sheep?" My belief is, "yes."

ms

We sheep have been given free will, and we can choose to be deceived. Eve chose deception, as did Adam. I, too chose deception for awhile. I chose to believe that, outside the gate/church, the pastures were greener (I was a PK, and we were poor) and that those sheep were having more fun (we were legalistic). I chose to believe that life outside the gate would be better. And, in some ways, it was, because there were not so many meaningless rules to follow; I didn't have to try to be "perfect, as I am perfect;" I could participate in some of the meaningless, but fun, activities the world provides.
However, the world and its pleasures are dangerous. When you do not have the power of Christ working in you, your boundaries are easily broken, and the consequences are painful.
For me, now, the abundant life includes fun and pleasure, but is not focused on them. The abundant life in Christ removes the danger. I can give myself wholeheartedly to His will, letting go of fear or worry. I can trust His promises and His love.
Right now, I have friends who are lost, and not only spiritually. They are full of anxiety over their finances. I know God will provide for my needs. He even allows me the joy of giving to others. I am content. This is my abundant life.

randy

Great insigt MS. Here's the debated question presented another way. Do you think we have the free will to accept true salvation and then later reject it? You've heard it many times..If saved, always saved?

ms

Randy, I think we can reject Him (e.g. Peter), but He will not reject us. However, like Peter, we will live with enormous regrets. Having to make that choice daily, in the face of all we know in our hearts to be true, sounds exhausting.

Jeff

I don't agree with the "once saved, always saved" concept. But as a disclaimer, I do think that God can forgive anything, even a person rejecting him after accepting him. God is absolutely capable of that from his end, but I think the disconnect is on the person's end.
There's a concept that I used to talk about with a friend of mine called "undeniable grace." I think he got the concept from John Piper, but I know it was from some of his textbooks when he was going to seminary here. Anyway, the heart of the concept is that if God touches you with his grace and love, you can't walk away from that or explain it away later. It's undeniable and it changes your life. So to turn it around, if a person walks away from life in Christ, the question of whether they really ever had been touched by that grace (and, therefore, had been saved at all) has real merit.
And when it comes down to it, I think the question is moot anyway. Jesus himself talked about how to deal with someone who's heart is hardened in Matthew 18. In the end, if that person refuses to listen to how he's sinned, that person is to be treated "as you would a pagan or a tax collector," an unbeliever. So whether that person is saved may not be our responsibility anymore, we're just told to treat that person as though he does not know God. The best part about that, though, is that we can keep striving to show God's grace and love to him, just like we would any other unbeliever. We just have to act like he's not playing from God's playbook anymore.

Austin

Yeah, after some reflection, I think the title of the article itself sheds alot of light of the issue raised earlier.

To answer the question--what does "abundant life," or "living life to the fullest" mean?--I'd say you have to ask yourself what the linchpin in the definition is.

So, I guess I might conclude that so long as my pursuit of fulfillment is aligned with God's method for finding it, I'm probably ok. Ms. Osteen's brand of fulfillment, on the other hand, seems to pay lip service to God, if only as a way to rubber-stamp God's approval on her latest shopping spree.

randy

yeah, MS, that's what I've concluded too. Otherwise, all Christian funerals would either have a lot of disclaimers or be pretty short like, "Yes, we loved Joe Church Guy and will miss him. Now his eternal destiny is in the hands of a loving, just God." Just injecting a little humor to a complex issue :)

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